THE COLLEGE HOOPS NOTEBOOK – RANKING THE TOP CONFERENCES (THAT’S 1-THRU-10)
Hey, who’s counting … but we’re now just 34 days away from “Selection Sunday” and there’s already lots of debate regarding who’s the best conference / league of them all. So, we’ll spend a few moments on getting you the answer but first this quickie reminder: Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging out plenty of NBA and College Basketball winners right here online or at 1-800-323-4453. Just keep rollin’ in the profits with America’s #1 Handicapper!
COLLEGE BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK
Okay, so let’s go right ahead and rank for you our top 10 College Basketball Conferences / Leagues following an exciting hoops weekend that featured Duke’s hard-to-explain 98-96 overtime non-cover win at 7.5-point underdog North Carolina (an easy “over” winner for Jim Hurley!) on Saturday night along with Sunday’s winners with Notre Dame (- 1) over Clemson 61-57 and Iona’s rocking-chair 78-54 win at 2.5-point fav Fairfield. So there!
1. BIG EAST – Hey, we have great respect for USA Today numbers-cruncher Jeff Sagarin but we’re gonna respectfully disagree with the top of his conference chart here as the 10-team Big East could (or should) have as many as seven teams in the NCAA Tournament mix and the likes of Seton Hall, Creighton, Marquette and free-falling Villanova all could find themselves somewhere on the #1-thru-#4 seed lines. In fact, toss Butler into the mix and the Big East boasts five teams with a “Net” of 25-or-below. Good stuff.
2. BIG 12 – Admittedly, it’s a tight 1-2-3 fit among the Big 10, Big East and Big 12 but the fact that mighty Kansas – Sagarin’s top-ranked team in all the land – spearheads this 10-team conference gives ’em the slightest of edges over “third-place” Big 10 here. Right now, we’d probably only put either five or six teams from this conference into the “Big Dance” with Baylor, Kansas and West Virginia likely garnering #1-thru-3 seeds.
3. BIG 10 – Here’s our honest-to-goodness take on this 14-team conference: There’s a very good chance that we’ll get as many as nine teams into the NCAA Tourney field but, except for the eventual conference tournament champ, the remainder of the Big 10 teams that snag a tourney berth will wind up on the #4-thru-10 seed lines. In short, lots of Big 10 volume, but maybe only one or teams that have legit shots to win it all. So, that hurts the ranking a tad here.
4. ACC – The fact that North Carolina (heroic as it was against the Dookies the other night) is having the program’s worst season in decades truly hurts the league’s reputation this 2019-2020 season plus we feel that there’s only three teams here that can win it all (that’s Duke, Louisville and Florida State) and we’re actually not all that keen on this Duke bunch. The bottom part of the ACC is bad, so this Tobacco Road conference drops more than a couple of lengths back behind the Big East, Big 12 and Big 10.
5. SEC – Okay, so there’s not a single SEC team with a “Net” of 14-or-better and so that hurts the overall power ranking of the SEC but Auburn, Kentucky and LSU all could land along the #3-4 seed line in next month’s NCAA’s. Gotta admit we’ve been waiting for a Miss State or South Carolina to take off and become a real-life top 25 team on a weekly basis.
6. PAC-12 – The last of the so-called power conferences slips into sixth place in our conference rankings but now here this: Don’t be surprised if more than half of the Pac-12 teams climb their way into the big tourney as we could see the likes of double-digit loss teams UCLA and Washington State sneaking in as part of “last four in” or maybe even one of ’em gets to play in the “First Four” tilts in Dayton on March 17 or 18.
7. AMERICAN ATHLETIC – Some of the “Net” numbers may not show it but we most definitely count Houston, Cincinnati and Wichita State as legitimate top 40 teams (these AAC teams should occupy some of the #7, #8 and #9 seeds).
8. MOUNTAIN WEST – Mr. Sagarin has this MWC in tenth place overall while ranking the 33 conferences / leagues in all the land but we like what we see from Utah State and Nevada and let’s not “bury the lead” as unbeaten (as in 24-and-oh) San Diego State has convinced us that it’s one of the top five teams in the country.
9. ATLANTIC 10 – No ifs, ands or buts about it as the Dayton Flyers have elevated the rep of this whole 14-team league all by their lonesome. Still, we’re wondering if the A-10 gets more than three teams into this year’s tourney field.
10. WEST COAST – It’s quite likely that we have underrated this WCC that stars 25-and-1 Gonzaga along with better-than-you-think BYU and Saint Mary’s but the bottom feeders here are among the worst teams in the country.
NOTE – Catch our next Jim Sez as we get you more College B-Ball News/Notes plus NBA goodies too and remember we’ll have NBA Report Cards later this week. And, yes, there’s NFL Draft notes comin’ too!